SPRINGFIELD -- Health care providers and advocates and KidCare Application Agents from around the state gathered in Oak Brook to celebrate the Blagojevich Administration’s expansion of health care access for children and families and to ramp up their efforts to identify and enroll the thousands of more Illinoisans who are now eligible for coverage.
“Health care for children and hardworking families is a priority for my administration,” Gov. Blagojevich said in a statement. “I’ve made it clear that no matter how tough our budget problems become, we will not turn our backs on children and families who need health care.”
The daylong event on April 8th was the 4th Annual Statewide Covering Kids & Families Illinois Coalition Conference. It was sponsored by the Illinois Department of Public Aid (IDPA), which administers the KidCare and FamilyCare programs, and the Illinois Maternal and Child Health Coalition. The focus of the conference was on how to improve outreach efforts for KidCare, which provides comprehensive health coverage for children whose families earn too much to qualify for Medicaid, and FamilyCare, designed for parents of those children.
In its first year in office, the Blagojevich administration expanded eligibility for KidCare and FamilyCare to cover thousands more children and parents. In addition, starting in January, IDPA made it easier for kids and families to enroll by requiring only one pay-stub as proof of income instead of a month’s worth of pay-stubs. And in early May, the Department will streamline the application process further by switching to Presumptive Eligibility, which provides immediate coverage for children under KidCare once their parents file an application stating they meet the program’s income threshold.
Governor Blagojevich has proposed a further expansion of FamilyCare in Fiscal Year 2005, starting July 1, 2004, aiming to extend coverage to more than 55,000 additional parents.
“The governor has shown real leadership on the issue of health care for children and families,” said Robyn Gabel, executive director of Illinois Maternal and Child Health. “Now it’s up to all of us advocates who have been pushing for these changes to make sure we take full advantage of the opportunity to enroll the thousands of uninsured children and parents who are now eligible for health coverage.”
“These expansions will have a real positive impact on people's lives,” said Director of Public Aid Barry S. Maram. “A lot of parents with low wage jobs and no health insurance now qualify for comprehensive health coverage for themselves and their children. They will have prescription drug coverage and they will be able to see a doctor when they're feeling sick, instead of having to wait to go the emergency room when they become seriously ill.”
“I am extremely pleased that Gov. Blagojevich has taken these bold and exciting steps,” said Dr. Terri Morris, a practicing pediatrician who is also Medical Director of the Division of Community Health at the University of Illinois-Chicago.
Morris said that the streamlining and simplification of the application process means that children who get sick and are eligible but not yet covered by KidCare will be able to get access to immediate care, instead of having to defer care, sometimes for over a month.
When Governor Blagojevich took office, the eligibility threshold for FamilyCare was at 49 percent of the Federal Poverty Level. That meant that parents in a family of four were not eligible for coverage if they earned more than $9,000.
With the expansion enacted by the Governor last July, the threshold was raised to 90 percent of poverty, meaning that a family of four can now qualifies if they earn up to $16,968.
Under the Governor’s proposed budget, the threshold will rise to 133 percent of the poverty level. Parents in a family of four would qualify if they earn up to $25,068
The administration also raised threshold for KidCare, which covers children up to 19, from 185 percent to 200 percent of the poverty level. This means that children are covered in a family of four earning up to $37,704.
A study last year by the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured found that Illinois was one of only three states in the nation that expanded access to health care while also not cutting rates paid to health care providers.
IDPA last year delivered health care coverage to an additional 60,000 children and 30,000 parents and provides coverage to more than one million low-income children through KidCare and Medicaid.
For more information about both KidCare and FamilyCare, visit kidcareillinois.com or call 1-866-4-OUR-KIDS (1-866-468-7543).